How to choose good work boots and care for them

August 10, 2017

Always look for the made in USA label to ensure exceptional build quality and premium hard wearing leather.

Matterhorn ‘Ranger’ 1949

Danner Fort Lewis beside Matterhorn Ranger 1949. Leather upper lay out and last design is virtually identical.

Inside of the boot should be Gore tex lined for waterproofing. 200 g thinsulate is just right for the tropics. Anything above that is unsuitable.

Field boots need not be shiny. But they should be worn correctly and well cared for. Make sure the laces are taut to support the ankle and to stop your toes from swimming around. Laces should all be taut and neatly tucked away to one corner to avoid snagging and tripping.

My soles are nearly there…..maybe another 100 miles left.


There is a big difference between hiking, mountain and hunting boots. A mountain boot is very rigid and provides plenty of ankle support and has plenty of D rings and tie off points to anchor your foot – it’s good when you have to lug loads in excess of 50 kg up a steep incline. A hiking boot is less rigid around the ankles and provides less support for load carrying capacity.

I find the best compromise is the hunting or field boot. As it is light. Provides moderate ankle support and very stable.

Hunting boots are the best for field work as they marry all the good aspects of both mountain and hiking boots.


Men who work on their feet twelve hours straight, day in and day out in harsh terrain never just put on a pair of boots on account of a boot review they saw on YouTube. Don’t be stupid.

To these category of frontier men. Boots are not just boots. They are very serious walking machines that have to perform under the most demanding conditions. The ultimate benchmark for boots is FORSCOM APPROVED. That means the boot has been put thru it’s paces by the US Army procurement agency – it has been tested to 1,001 field performance criterias to ensure stupid things don’t ever occur like the whole outer sole peeling off suddenly to your boot coming apart for no apparent reason.

Not many boots are FORSCOM APPROVED as the testing and proofing is rigorous.

If possible wear only FORSCOM APPROVED boots as they are the gold standard.

The silver standard is ASTM. I do not recommend this. As fit and quality varies so much that it’s hard to generalise.

The only downside about FORSCOM APPROVED boots is that they are all very expensive.


The golden rule when it comes to boots goes like this. Never wear a damp boot. That means if you’re out in the field on Monday and it rains and you come back with soaked boots. Don’t wear that same boot out on Tuesday. Let it dry out. Stuff newspaper into it. Undo the laces. Put it before a fan. Wear the second boot out on Tuesday work day.

If it doesn’t rain and you come back with bone dry boots. You can wear them again the following day.

I don’t believe in rotating boots just for the sake of rotating them. It is not uncommon for me to wear the same boot day in and out PROVIDING I come back dry….but I never ever wear a damp or soggy boot out. Doing so is the fastest way to destroy your boots from the inside out. As it stretches the leather out of shape and soon both the stitching and welt will give right out.

I have two pairs of work boots. Both are FORSCOM APPROVED. The first is a Danner Fort Lewis and the other is a Matterhorn. Both are manufactured in the US. Both have identical cuts and specs.


Made in USA is the best when it comes to boots. Only because for some unknown reason the US seem to have a monopoly on the best quality leather. I don’t know why…but it is what it is.


Get away from the planet and people destroying culture of buy and throw. You should only need to buy work boots once in your life! As all high quality boots are all recraftable. That means when the sole thins out – you can slap on a new sole and it’s good to go for a year or two again. And this is done again and again.

Learn to care for your boot. They don’t have to shiny all the time like parade boots. But the leather should not be neglected till it dries out and threatens to crack.

Field boots should only be dressed with dubbin and never with shoe wax such as Kiwi shoe polish.

There is no need to treat the whole boot. Just dub the areas where the leather crunches on the vamp and use an old toothbrush to make sure the entire welt line is always dubbed.

How you choose to care for your boots is a reflection of how seriously committed you are to keeping yourself injury free, it is this attention to detail to the very small things that will always make a big difference in life….when a real frontier man sets eyes on you. The first thing he will do is take a long hard look at your boots…that’s your resume right there!…your CV along with a relable indicator whether you’re someone who he wants to hang out with – the tauntness of your laces…the way you tie off expertly with a surgeons knot and even take the trouble to tuck it in neatly to one corner to avoid snagging will buy you nods of approval, it will convey your seriousness as someone who takes exceptional pride in the small but important things in life.

This sort of secret arcanum is like freemasonry…being a secret member of the illuminati or the magic circle…if you know. You’re inside the circle..if not, no one will ever tell you! This is very serious knowledge.

Keep it tight…do not be sloppy…nothing in this world can be accomplished without iron discipline.


‘It is not the big things in this world that makes you big! It is the very small and forgettable little things that no one ever sees except you. If you cannot keep these small things tight, orderly and well arranged…then do not ever talk about doing big things……that is not possible.

So pay close attention to the very small things in life…keep them all tight, orderly and immaculate…there is after all a god in the small.’

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